Monday, December 10, 2007

"I helped change the world."

One summer not too long ago my family visited a friend of my mother. This man, in his seventies, had been a bomber pilot in WWII. As we talked, he took me into his office and began to show me pictures of his war buddies, of the airplanes they flew, and the missions they had accomplished. He was proud, and very humble at the same time. He had tears in his eyes as he talked about the friends he'd lost in combat.

His generation faced the opportunity, and historic responsibility, of a lifetime. All I could say was, "Thank You!"

He pointed to a picture and said, "I was a part of that. I helped change the world."

Wow! How amazing is that—to look at the world around you and know you've made a difference?

You see, there will be a day when someone will look back on the lives that have been changed at Access Church and ask you, "Did you help make that happen?" And you can either say, "Yes, it was crazy. It was a risk. But we trusted God and we gave time and money we weren't sure we had, and we watched God do amazing things." Or, you can say, "Well, we were right there... it happened right in front of us... but we just weren't sure, so we let others lead the way."

We believe that someday we will say, "We allowed God to use us, to literally change the world around us."

I'd love you to be a part of that. I would love for as many of you reading this as possible to make a strong pledge to the RoadMap campaign on December 16, and to fulfill that pledge by the end of the month. There's still room for another 30 families to jump in at all pledge levels. Don't miss your chance!

Pledge cards are available at the information desk on Sunday, or you can email or call.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Incredible Opportunity!

A small group of visionaries in Atlanta are so excited about what's going on at Access Church that they have offered to help us reach our destination. And they've offered this help in the form of a financial gift, where they will match, dollar-for-dollar, any visionary giving (marked "RoadMap") that we receive between now and December 31, 2007.

All they ask in return is that once we are financially independent, we help start other partnerships.

Such a deal!

That means that if you choose to support the strategies of this church, if you choose to help us create these environments, if you help us follow this RoadMap—then a group of people that live 400 miles away will join you in that mission!

Isn't that amazing? These are families just like you and I with lots of other things they could do with their money, but they are so excited about what's ahead for Access Church that they want to invest their money here. They are surrendering their finances to see what God will do!

Here's where it gets even more exciting:

On October 21, we announced that our goal is to raise $300,000 from attenders and friends of Access Church by December 31, 2007. Some of you gasped! But we have a great vision for what God can do in Jacksonville and we want to be right there on the front lines! We know what it will take to hire the right staff, rent the right facilities, and create the right environments.

And we don't want you to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of this! We want you, like us, to look back on this in five years, or twenty, and say, "God used me in that circumstance. I wasn't sure I could afford it. I wasn't sure we'd make it. But, we opened our hands to God and he did something amazing!"

Stephanie and I and the rest of our staff were the first to make financial commitments to this campaign. Why?
  • Because our middle and high school students need a youth pastor who is committed to working with their parents to help them navigate the waters of adolescence
  • Because we want to create a shared learning experience for elementary students and their parents, and we need to do that right
  • Because we really believe that life change happens when we sit around the kitchen table and look each other in the eyes and love, encourage, and challenge one another
  • Because moms & dads need to be empowered to teach their children about God
  • Because singles need to be in healthy relationships with other singles.
  • Because your neighbors, your friends at work, your mom, your son, your brother-in-law, your son's coach, your best friend, your spouse... needs to know that Jesus is real and can make a difference in their lives—now and for eternity
  • Because we believe heaven and hell are real places. We really believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and the God who made us wants to have a relationship with us that lasts forever. And we believe everyone ought to know that. We believe the church is God's only plan. And we believe a church that is loving God and loving people, with a clear, obvious strategy, will be irresistible
  • Because Jesus Christ left us with a mission, a destination. And we are the stewards of a proven RoadMap
So, how 'bout it? Are you in?

We've already received commitments of $160,635 toward our goal. Please fill out a card this week and let us know your 2007 commitment. Or, you can email, call, or give online!

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Gas Money

For the last month at Access Church, we've been talking about all the cool environments that we plan to launch in the next year or so here in Jacksonville. We've used the metaphor of a road trip—we know where we're going, we have a clear strategy for getting there, and we have some great people on board. We'd love to have you join us!

But we need you to kick in for gas money! :-)

Access Church depends on two types of giving for our ministry:
  1. Regular Giving
  2. Visionary Giving
Regular Giving
Regular giving is from that part of us that says, “Everything I have is from God, so I’m going to regularly give back to him by prioritizing a percentage of my income for my local church.” We believe this is a Biblical practice for believers to give their first-fruits to God. Regular giving is generally received by mail or Sunday offering.

Visionary Giving
When the dream for Access Church was born, we knew it would cost more to operate than we would initially receive in offerings. We knew from creating these environments in 17 other cities that it would cost about $40,000 each month to operate, and that regular offerings we receive by mail or in the worship services would not cover those expenses for the first 18-24 months.

That's when a committed group of about eight families right here in Jacksonville said, "We'll help make up the difference." Isn't that amazing? Up to now those individuals have given about $235,000 to see Access Church develop into what we are today. We call that giving visionary giving, and we are so grateful for those who are excited about our destination, and our RoadMap, who have made this investment.

Visionary giving is when you see something exciting happening and you say, "I want to be a part of that. I want to help make that happen." In a very real sense, it is venture capitalthat pays amazing dividends! Visionary giving allows us to go further, faster.

Jump In
If you're a regular attender and you've been coming to Access for a while, the time may have come for you to begin giving a regular percentage of your income to Access Church. And if you'd like to be a part of the "over-and-above" visionary giving, we're not ashamed to say that this is a great place to invest your hard-earned dollars.

The road ahead is exciting. We'd love to have you along for the ride!

If you have any questions whatsoever about the finances at Access Church, please feel free to shoot me an email! I'd love to have the conversation! Online gifts can now be made at

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Sunday, October 28, 2007


Our strategy at Access Church necessitates that we have foyer, living room, and kitchen environments for every age level. We have launched some of those environments already, but there's more to come!

Recently we announced some exciting new environments that we plan to launch in the months to come. These environments are exact replicas of exciting, successful environments already helping connect people to God in 17 other cities across North America. We can't wait to launch them here in Jacksonville!

Our RoadMap (download the PDF here):

Student Small Groups (Grades 6-12)
November 2007
Small groups are the heart of the student ministry because life change happens best in relationships. In small groups, students build deep friendships with other students and leaders, discuss what it means to have a relationship with Jesus, and have fun together.

GroupLink (Adults)
November 2007
GroupLink is a two-hour event where you will connect with others and form a community group. Community groups are small groups of six married couples or eight individuals of the same gender that meet weekly in someone's home for fellowship, Bible study, and prayer.

Kaos and Rush Hour
March 2008
Kaos (middle school) and Rush Hour (high school) are ever-changing environments designed for our core students to bring their friends. You'll see these events show up in the form of coffee houses, concerts, parties, and other formats that help students introduce their friends to our ministry.

March 2008
KidVenture is a huge party that we throw a few times a year for UpStreet's small groups and their leaders. It could be Karaoke, bowling, jump-n-slide, or other events that help connect leaders and kids in a great social environment. Watch the website for these over-the-top, hilarious, wacky, crazy, fun events kids won't want to miss.

Student Retreats
Spring, Summer, Fall 2008
Weekend retreats and summer camps are an amazing time to pull away from the routine of life and to take a look at who Jesus is in a fun and meaningful way with friends. There are retreats scheduled for the spring and fall of 2008, and we are planning to go to camp in the summer of 2008 for the first time.

September 2008
Fusion is an environment where single adults come to build authentic friendships and get connected. We'll meet on the first and third Sunday night of each month in various locations around the Jacksonville area.

Fall 2008
KidStuf is where kids bring their parents to a 45-minute show that uses music, drama, storytelling, video, lights, and sound to teach character and faith by emphasizing a monthly value. KidStuf is value-driven, user-friendly, creatively wired, family-centered, kid-focused, and volunteer-fueled.

Xtreme and InsideOut
October 2008
Xtreme (middle school) and InsideOut (high school) will be our regularly scheduled events for students. They are the places to experience great worship, to get in-depth teaching, and to get connected into small groups.

Wow, that's pretty exciting! You're probably wondering what you can do to help. Well, keep checking in here and we're going to outline some very specific ways you can jump in!

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

RoadMap Message Online

Got a few (36) minutes? We'd love for you to listen to this important message on the future of Access Church, delivered October 21 in our morning services.

The message can be found here.

After you've listened to the message, please take a short, 2-minute survey and let us know what you think. Click here to take our survey.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Access Strategy

So, if our purpose is to make disciples (or as we say, lead people into growing relationships with Jesus Christ), how do we do that? How do we pull it off?

Well, Jesus seemed to have only one plan for accomplishing this, the local church.

Maybe when you think about a local church you imagine a steeple, pulpit, robes, ritual, and tradition. And maybe Access Church rocks that image a bit. But the Bible teaches the church is any group of Christ-followers who are pursuing intimacy with God and community with each other. Jesus thinks of a group of people that are making a difference in the world around them. Access Church is one of those local churches. We're not just a campus ministry or people blowing through town. With our whole hearts we have embraced this city and this mission.

So if making disciples is the destination, and we are the local church, then the question becomes, "How do we get there?"

Since this whole thing is about relationships, we find it helpful to talk about our strategy like you would a home. Perhaps you've read my previous post on our foyer, living room, and kitchen.

We describe the foyer as an environment intentionally created for those outside the church to come and learn how God and the Bible matter in their lives today. There are plenty of other churches that are primarily for church people on Sunday mornings, but this church, on Sunday mornings, is also for those who are still asking significant questions about God.

Why is is this important? Because our culture is asking more spiritual questions in this generation than ever before. But this generation is also attending church in the lowest numbers ever in our nation's history.

Christians, and the church, as USA Today said this week, are suffering from seriously low approval ratings.

We wanted to create a church for people that don't really like church. That's our foyer. We've seen this work in 17 other cities across North America. We know it's working because people who don't even understand or agree with our message are inviting their friends!

The foyer isn't for us. It's not for the volunteers. It's not even for you. The foyer is for your friends. For this community. And mostly for God, who deserves their worship.

The best sentence I've found to describe this foyer strategy to people is to say, "We are more concerned with reaching people than we are with keeping people."

When you understand our purpose for the foyer, becoming a part of a small group (the kitchen) becomes even more important. The fact that our Sunday morning environment is for unchurched people means that community groups become even more important for believers, and November 4—GroupLink—should be in HUGE red letters on your calendar.

Access Church has a clear strategy for getting there, because we believe that navigation is every bit as important as destination. Therefore, we must provide environments that provide clear opportunities for life change to occur. Some of these environments we've already launched. But there are so many more that we want to launch in the months to come! Later this week I'll reveal exactly what those are, and when we plan to launch them.

Stay tuned!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Importance of Good Navigation

I heard a story recently about a couple that purchased a GPS for a trip across the country to see friends. For nearly 1,000 miles this little unit sat on their dashboard and flawlessly directed them toward their destination. The only problem came when they were literally within sight of their friends' house. The little GPS insisted they continue 500 feet to their friends house on the left.

But the GPS offered no suggestions on how to cross the creek that lay between them and their friends.

Navigation is every bit as important as destination. This is true in life, too. It's not enough to know where you want to go in life. You have to know how to get there.

There's a place in Atlanta where northbound traffic splits into Interstates 75 and 85. One year, returning from spring break, my friend Wendell pulled up in the lane next to me to signal that he needed to stop for gas. I tried to signal back that he was in the wrong lane. He looked up to see the sign too late, and in an instant was headed for Greenville instead of Chattanooga.

Yeah, navigation matters.

Perhaps this has happened to you, even in your career, or your marriage, or with your children or your business. Where you say, "Honey, if we want our kids to end up like this, we'd better start implementing some changes in our home, now."

You recognize this truth in your career, right? If your goal is to work in entertainment industry, interning for a construction company probably isn't the best path to start on.

It's even more important for an organization to know, not only where it wants to end up, but exactly how it's going to get there. We've all been a part of an organization or a movement that has lost its way. Perhaps you've been a part of something, and you've realized these are good people. They mean well. They know where they want to go. They just don't know how to get there!

Thankfully, when Jesus left this earth he made it perfectly clear what our destination is. In fact, he wrote our mission statement for us.

In the final chapter of Matthew's account of his life, he gathers his disciples together, and he has a few words left before he leaves them behind and goes to be with the father.

He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It's his last chance to speak to them, to summarize the last three years into one command. He boils it all down to one thing. There is one imperitive verb, and three participles which help that verb. "As you are going..." MAKE DISCIPLES.

That's it. That's our purpose as a church. That's our destination.

So the big question remains: How are we going to get there? What is our strategy? Do we have a road map?

Yes, we do. Tomorrow we'll talk about it. Join us Sunday as we explore what God has called Access Church to accomplish in this community. It's challenging and exciting!

See you there!

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